The Full Wiki

Double majorities: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to Double majority article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about voting with two criteria of majority needing to be satisfied. See Majority or Absolute majority for a system that requires more than 50% of the vote, or see Supermajority for a system requiring more than an arbitrary percentage, set at greater than 50%, of the vote.

A double majority is the name given to a vote which requires a majority of votes according to two separate criteria. The mechanism is usually used to require strong support for any measure considered to be of great importance. Typically in legislative bodies, a double majority requirement exists in the form of a quorum being necessary for legislation to be passed.


Examples of double majority



In Australia, constitutional changes must be passed at a referendum in a majority of states (4 of the 6), and by a majority of voters nationally. Prior to 1977, the votes of citizens in the Northern Territory and the ACT did not affect the national or state-based count. After a Constitution Alteration put to referendum in 1977 and given vice-regal assent on 19 July 1977, Territorial votes contribute towards the national majority, but the Territories themselves do not count towards the majority of states. Note that the territories have very small populations.


Since the patriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982, thorough amending formulae for the constitution were adopted. Per the Constitution Act, 1982, some amendments can be passed only by the Canadian House of Commons, the Senate, and a two-thirds majority of the provincial legislatures representing at least 50% of the national population-–this is known as the 7/10 formula ('7' as there were and are 10 provinces). Though not constitutionally mandated, a referendum is also considered to be necessary by many, especially following the precedent established by the Charlottetown Accord in 1992.

However, there are some parts of the constitution that can be modified only by a vote of all the provinces plus the two houses of the Canadian parliament; these include changes to the composition of the Supreme Court of Canada, changing the process for amending the constitution itself, or any act affecting the Canadian monarch or governor general.

European Union

In the European Union, double majority voting is a form of Qualified Majority Voting which is proposed in the Draft Treaty establishing a constitution for Europe. According to this proposal, any decision taken under this scheme will require the support of at least 55% of the Council of the European Union members who must also represent at least 65% of the EU's citizens. The Treaty was already ratified in 20 EU member states, but failed to achieve ratification from France and the Netherlands in 2005. Currently, a substitute called Treaty of Lisbon has been ratified by all Member States, following the Irish second referendum held on 2 October 2009 and the ratification by the Czech Republic on November 3, 2009.[1][2] The Lisbon Treaty includes the same provisions regarding double majority voting as the Draft Treaty proposed.

In the matter of the secession of Montenegro, the EU stated that it would recognize the result only if the Yes case won 55% or more, ensuring a clear margin that would be beyond dispute.


In Switzerland, the passing of a constitutional amendment by initiative requires a double majority; not only must a majority of people vote for the amendment but also a majority of cantons must also give their consent. This is to prevent a larger canton from foisting amendments onto the smaller ones and vice versa.

United States

Double majority is used in the United States for some initiative or referendum votes on issues such as a tax levy or bond. Essentially, a double majority standard applies a two-part test to a vote outcome before a measure is passed:

1. Did a majority of registered voters turn out for the election? If voter turnout does not surpass this threshold, the measure fails, regardless of the outcome of those who did vote.
2. Did the measure pass with the requisite majority of votes? If so, the measure passes. If not, the measure fails.

This mechanism is used to prevent a small group from passing spending measures which affect the entire population in order to support their pet causes, especially at an election expected to have low voter turnout. Double majorities are also frequently used in municipal annexations, wherein majorities of both the residents in the annexing territory and the territory to be annexed must support the annexation. A similar rule exists for adopting Metro government in Tennessee, where the referendum must pass both inside and outside the principal city.[3]



  • Butterworths Concise Australian Legal Dictionary, 2nd edition (2002). ISBN 0-409-31568-0
  • Europa Glossary


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address